Rumbles, Roars, Trumpets, and Snorts associated with elephant Bonding-Ceremonies. Elephants are highly expressive, demonstrative animals, and they may vocalize loudly and in chorus under a wide variety of different circumstances. Behavior similar to the Greeting-Ceremony may occur following the birth of an elephant, a mating (Mating-Pandemonium), the rescue of a calf, an aggressive interaction with another group, when the group feels threatened, or when close associates are reunited.
In these and other cases a series of powerful, overlapping, rumbles that include a wide variety of contours, interspersed with trumpets and roars, may be heard. We refer to the associated behavior collectively as a Bonding-Ceremony and the vocalisations that occur within them a Bonding-Chorus.
The powerful chorused calling may signal to participants, and to more distant listeners, that the callers are members of a supportive unit, and that together they form a united front. Similar to social grooming in primates, Bonding-Ceremonies appear to reinforce bonds between individuals whose loyalty and support are needed to ensure individual survival and well-being. Calves born into large, closely-knit families have a better chance of survival than those born into smaller families; large families with older matriarchs have high reproductive success, and are leaders in their society.
The strong and positive emotional responses between adult females help to build and reinforce the bonds between them. The frequent Bonding exchanges that occur between family members during the course of a day, and the more intense Greetings that occur when members of a family reunite, are among the many ways in which elephants express their friendship and loyalty toward one another and renew the support network that is so important to their survival.
References: Poole 2011. (Full reference list)
This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Birth, Coalition Building